Getting Parents Involved

by Tom Hobart
Used with permission from NYSUT’s The Bottom Line, January 27, 1999

Teachers have long known – and research confirms – that when parents are involved in their children’s education, the children do better in school.

It’s as important today as ever, but the changing family structure (both parents working, one-parent families, step families, etc.) often make it more difficult than in past generations for parents to become involved. the challenge for us is to encourage the parents (or guardians or grandparents) of the children we teach to show a real interest in their kid’s school work and activities. Here are some ideas you might want to suggest at your next round of parent-teacher conferences or at a school open house.

Establish a routine at home that gives your child an opportunity to share with you what they are doing in school. It might be tough at first to get the kids to open up, and it shouldn’t be an inquisition. By making it a part of every day, you will make the point that school is important and that you are interested in what goes on there.

Attend as many school events – sports, concerts, plays, open houses, even an occasional school board meeting – as you possibly can. If this means sometimes rearranging you business or social calendar, it’s part of your responsibility as parents.

Call your child’s teachers once in awhile, just to ask how things are going. The teacher will appreciate your interest and you will have opened an important line of communication. Together, you may be able to head off future problems.

To the best of your ability, assure that your child goes to school each day ready to learn. That includes having homework completed, the necessary materials, sufficient sleep and nourishment, and the knowledge that you consider school a top priority in your child’s life.

Read with your child as early in her or his life and as often as possible. he availability of books, magazines, and newspapers in your home not only provides material for your child to read, but also says, “Reading is an important activity in this family.” Nothing is more important to a person’s lifetime ability to learn and grow than reading. Don’t allow television to take the place of reading, in general, or homework, in particular.

One of the most serious obstacles to learning in a classroom is a lack of students’ self discipline and respect for others. If your child exhibits such tendencies at home, address the situation, immediately. Insist on appropriate behavior. If the child is unresponsive seek professional advice.

I’m sure you can think of many more ways parents can help their children in school. Don’t keep them to yourself. Share with colleagues ideas that have worked for you. Most important, share them with parents.

The parent -teacher partnership is critical for a child’s success.

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